A few months ago, I kept getting this strong hankering for reading books featuring powerful women. Was I looking for hope in a dark world?! Trying to prove that the patriarchy will never win out completely?! I don’t know. But I wanted to feel inspired, connected to, and empowered by stories of women.
Here are some of the books I stumbled upon during this time. Some I read already, some I am currently reading, and a couple are on my list!
I try my best to read stories and authors from many perspectives – but I know I am probably missing some, and would love to hear your reading suggestions in the comments below.
Break the Good Girl Myth
This book definitely finds itself in the self help realm, but it serves as a great book for self-reflection for all women. This book tackles how the patriarchy affects how the more feminine side of society behaves. The author breaks down good girl myths into five categories: rules, perfection, harmony, logic, and sacrifice. The author takes the position that these are five myths that hold women back from living their fullest lives. I’ve found myself questioning my perspective in constructive ways, and exploring how these ‘myths’ have affected me in my life – and most importantly, how I can change my course.
Who Fears Death
This is a sci-fi novel (only my FAVORITE GENRE!), taking place in post-apocalyptic Africa (more specifically, modern-day Somalia – though the author keeps it vague). I am still reading this, but this novel centers on the effects of sexual violence across generations, race and power dynamics, and women coping with and breaking out of a misogynistic culture. There is discussion on children of sexual violence, and how they fit into society, as well as how women carry the burden of procreation, whether or not it is by choice. I am still reading this novel, but it is a page turner!
Milk and Honey
This is a book of poetry I go back to over and over. It is divided into four sections: the hurting, the loving, the breaking, and the healing. The poems and art throughout the text take you on a journey on relationships, and love. They explore being in toxic relationships, and healing from experience. They focus on the growth of young women and people when it comes to navigating romantic relationships, and seek to share the human experience behind difficult situations. I love reading this book of poems when I am in my feels.
The Lunar Chronicles
I keep fangirling about this series (I have read it twice now), and it is another story set in the sci-fi realm. This series takes the fairy tale archetypes and stories and adapts them to the science fiction world. For example, Cinderella is a mechanic and cyborg in New Beijing with a mysterious family history. The other characters have their own strengths and continue to show how inclusive the sci-fi genre of stories are compared to other genres of fiction. The stories cater to a younger audience, but I still reread these books years later – there are no books that really compare in terms of story telling (not that I have found… yet!).
I know I need to read more transgender stories. This is on my to read list, because it also discusses racial passing and immigration (topics I am very interested in). This memoir is multi-faceted, and I think could give me a better understanding of what trans folks experience in the US and abroad. From what I gather, the author takes the perspective of how stories provide immigrants and trans folks a safe space to explore ideas without judgement. I love this sort of approach, as libraries have been my safe place for exploring since I was a kid growing up in multiple cultures.
Reading gives me a chance to take a peek at life experiences that I myself don’t get to have. It challenges my way of thinking, and helps me learn about others. When it comes to being a well-rounded feminist, I think it is really important to read all female perspectives, across ethnicity, race, religion, gender, economics, social, and other factors. There are so many incredible perspectives and experiences – and as individuals, there is no way for us to know it all. Here’s to going beyond our visible horizon and learning how others live!
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